How This Photog Went From Shooting Local Gigs To Working W Some Of The Biggest Names In Music


Starting out in the creative biz is never an easy ride — it requires dedication, craft-honing and constant levelling up. For Sydney-based photographer and videographer Billy Zammit, it all started with attending and shooting local gigs.

These days, you’ll find him capturing the highlights of epic festivals, directing cinematic ad campaigns for your favourite brands and helping bring the creative vision of some of the biggest and best names in Aus music to life.

Over the last few years, Billy has worked alongside acts like Vera Blue, DMA’s, Yours Truly, CXLOE, merci mercy and more, and his unique style has been sought after by the likes of the ABC, Converse, Unify Gathering and more.

So, how on earth does a creative journey of this mammoth all come to life? Here’s a look into just how Billy got his start, and what he reckons all youngsters looking to chase their creative dreams should do.

How did you get your start in music photography and videography?

I was always going to shows when I was younger and had an interest in music, so when I picked up a camera and started photographing things I loved, music was one of them! The artists playing local shows and tour managers, photographers and crew have all grown together, which has led to some incredible opportunities to shoot events and festivals, and portraits and music videos.

What initially inspired you to forge a career as a creative?

Initially, my interest was in graphic design! However, my fascination shifted when picking up a camera and finding my creative and artistic identity. The curiosity of exploration and travel incorporated perfectly, so in 2018 I had my first solo exhibition. Given that photography was all I had ever done for work, I have been working in a professional sense ever since!

Who were some of the artists and creatives that inspired you initially?

Subconsciously, I think it may have been my parents and grandparents. I was fortunate enough to experience a creative upbringing —my parents were dancers, my nan was a dressmaker, and my grandad was a photographer! Always having that encouragement motivated me and led me into a natural curiosity and creative intrigue for music, graffiti and street photography.

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Can you give us a rundown on what a typical day looks like for you on set for a shoot?

On a typical studio press portrait day, coffee is the first thing off the bat! After that, I’ll travel to the location and arrive at 8:30/9:00 am and then work with the assistant or art department to build out the world, set design and lighting we’re shooting and have created the past couple of weeks in pre-production. A full day of shooting is usually eight-to-ten hours, and there will usually be three-four looks (with a stylist and hair and makeup) to accompany them.

It’s such an amazing experience being given this trust from an artist and their time to help create their vision  — working in the studio allows the opportunity to forge a unique perspective and vignette with creative freedom!

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced, and what have you learned from them?

The biggest lesson I’ve learnt is to stress less and always remember to stay cool under pressure. Sometimes things will go wrong out of your control, and you can only do so much — so learning to roll with the punches and always have a backup is super important for me!

What projects are you most proud of?

I’m really proud of 2021’s ‘Sydney Isn’t Sydney Without You’ TVC campaign. I directed, and DP’d (Director Of Photography) for The Streets of Barangaroo and Lend Lease — those were my biggest 60-second TVC spot to date. I will never forget being brought on as the DP for DMA’s live performance on the first TV season of The Sound on ABC (via Mushroom Creative House). I’ve had the opportunity to photograph some incredible artists; Mac Miller, Childish Gambino, Turnstile, Ice Cube, Daniel Johns. I can’t wait to get back into the touring world!

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Who are you currently inspired by?

Currently, I’m inspired by my friends and surroundings. I’ve always been a product of my environment, and I’m so fortunate to know many incredibly creative, trusting friends that constantly inspire me.

What advice do you have for other creatives and people about chasing their dreams?

I would say always to stay positive — I’ve been photographing for nine years this year and feel like I have so much to learn. Try to be patient, but if you keep trying for long enough and do what feels right, you’ll never get let down for trying.

What’s in store for 2022? Are there any upcoming projects you’re hyped for?

2022 is reassessing my creative motivations and discipline — focusing on tangible, quality creative work coming from an emotive, bespoke approach. Trying to take it as easy as possible after two years of stress and intensity, I think everyone deserves some calmness in 2022!